One of the largest complaints from the Android camp as of late has been the fire hosing of new devices. Between November 2010 and the beginning of November this year, roughly 103 handsets were made and released worldwide by major Android manufacturers. This number excludes devices released by lesser-known OEMs like KCTP, according to our own Sydney and the study she performed in an attempt to quantify Android's fragmentation problems. Collectively, it's easy to see how out of hand things have gotten in Androidland.
But the problem starts with individual manufacturers releasing far too many phones throughout the year. HTC, Samsung and Motorola are the prime examples in the States. Every couple months (weeks, more recently), these manufacturers manage to release a similar but different version of their flagship devices.
For instance, HTC originally released the Sensation 4G on T-Mobile in May of this year. By the time it finally landed, there was already word of another Sensation-like device coming to none other than T-Mo. There has since been a slew of different versions of the Sensation or different but similar HTC-made devices (i.e.: Sensation XL, Sensation XE, Amaze 4G, Rezound, etc.) launching on carriers around the world. And Samsung has been perpetually launching varying Galaxy S II devices since April (Galaxy S II on AT&T and Skyrocket).
Arguably the worst of all, however, is Motorola, specifically with their DROID line of handsets on Verizon's network. This year alone, we have been introduced to the DROID X2, DROID 3, DROID BIONIC and DROID RAZR. Presumably, as indicated by press images and leaked documents, we are on the brink of the release of the DROID 4, only five months after the release of the third generation DROID.
Normally, I wouldn't complain about so many choices. I often praise the amount of choices available when you take the Android route. But when there are six or seven devices from the same manufacturer within eight months of each other, all releasing on a single carrier with remarkably similar specs, it makes you wonder why. Why not just focus on two main devices? Why self-inflict obsolescence and create competition between their own line of devices?
Take a look at the DROID BIONIC and DROID RAZR, for example. The differences in the major specifications are negligible. The main differences between them are the dimensions of the device and design highlights, like brushed aluminum emblems and power button on the RAZR. There wouldn't be a problem had the two devices not launched within two months of each other, or on different carriers. But they did, and there is now next to no reason for anyone to buy a BIONIC at all. The same could be said of the DROID 3, which launched in the second half of July, and the DROID 4, which is rumored to land the 8th of December.
In short, a successor should not launch within six months of its predecessor. No ... a successor should not launch within nine or 10 months of its predecessor. The DROID BIONIC never should have been. And the DROID 4 definitely should not launch before May, much less in 2011. Personally, I think since Ice Cream Sandwich is officially available, Motorola and Verizon should put the DROID 4 off until the 4th gen DROID can ship with Android 4.0. If nothing else, making it one of the first devices to ship with ICS could grow interest in the device.
What say you, folks? Should Moto and Big Red chill and stop bringing so many similar (yet ever-so-slightly different) DROIDs to the table? Should a successor launch within six months of its predecessor? Would you rather see the DROID 4 be postponed and ship with Ice Cream Sandwich?
Image via Droid Life